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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "Longshanks, Girth, and Keen: The Story of Three Wonderful Serving Men"

Longshanks, Girth, and Keen: The Story of Three Wonderful Serving Men

Keen fixed his glowing eyes on the mountain and the mountain crumbled. Then the rock that was inside the mountain broke into a thousand pieces and there was the precious stone glittering among the pieces.

They picked it up and carried it back to the prince. As soon as he dropped it on the floor the princess reappeared.

When the magician came in and found her there, his eyes sparkled with anger, and bang! the second of his iron bands cracked and burst asunder. Rumbling and growling he led the princess away.

That day passed as the day before. After supper the magician brought back the princess and, looking fiercely at the prince, he sneered and said: “Now we’ll see who wins, you or I.”

This night the prince and his men tried harder than ever to stay awake. They didn’t even allow themselves to sit down but kept walking. All in vain. One after another they fell asleep on their feet and again the princess escaped.

In the morning the prince, as usual, was the first to awake. When he saw the princess was gone, he aroused Keen.

“Wake up, Keen!” he cried. “Look out and tell me where the princess is.”

This time Keen had to look long before he saw her.

“Master, she is far away. Three hundred miles from here there is a black sea. At the bottom of that sea is a shell. In that shell is a golden ring. That ring is the princess. But don’t be worried, master, we’ll get her. This time let Longshanks take Girth as well as me, for we may need him.”

So Longshanks put Keen on one shoulder and Girth on the other. Then he stretched himself out until he was able to cover thirty miles at a stride. When they reached the black sea Keen showed Longshanks where to reach down in the water for the shell. Longshanks reached down as far as he could but not far enough to touch bottom.

“Wait, comrades, wait a bit,” said Girth. “Now it’s my turn to help.”

With that he puffed himself out and out as far as he could. Then he lay down on the beach and began drinking up the sea. He drank it in such great gulps that soon Longshanks was able to reach bottom and to get the shell.

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